Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Relentless Married Couples (more from a fiction in progress)

I imagine climbing Hellvellyn, the lonely peak, seeking solitude, the world spread out like a map beneath, the winds above blowing freely. I am expecting this, but then, over the crest of the hill, comes a wedding party, with their glasses of prosecco, their canapes and their horse drawn carriages full of smiling elders and excitable children. What are they doing here, I think, what the fuck are they doing striding over the top of Hellvellyn, smiling at snatching cameras? They have no place here, spoiling the view, staining the silence. But come toward me they do, and they never cease. Let me hide behind this rock, in this dip. Let me be shade and shadow. I'll wait till they've gone, but more will appear. Here's a bride to be, with her spreadsheets and table plans, not joyous at all but earnest and stressed, locked in the one-stop compartment full of curses and mirrors that's hurtling towards her wedding day. They never stop coming, these avatars of The Couple, these men and women, all coupled up, with their invitations to the wedding, the dinner party, the Christmas drinks, and me only wanting the depopulated peak of the hill, the patchwork of green and brown lands below, and acres to think, and dry stone walls as far as sight, and tarns like gleaming calm pieces of sky. I imagine them, the wedding party, quietly exploding, a gasp of sudden smoke; a cloud of smoke that drifts down to the lake, Ullswater, made when a glacier melted, a cloud drifting on water, caught by the rays of the setting sun, dispersed in the cold night air.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Babies.. [from Fiction in progress]

They want a baby not a human being, these newly crowned married couples. They envisage only a small wobbling baby, bewidered, and cute. Or at most a cheeky toddler, prising things open to release the genie. . Nobody wants the hateful teenager, a lanky streak of resentment and spots,  least of all an adult with its awkward politics and adverserial intellect. They want tiny defenceless, pathetically vulnerable babies, objects of tearful adoration, . And they want babies because babies are 'theirs', whereas an adult will always escape them and their domestic gulag. And even when they, the babies, become fully grown human beings, the parent insists on seeing only the baby. You're still my baby they opine, you're still my little boy, my little girl. They call it unconditional love but it's love on condition that you never cease being a baby. When they look at you, your parents, they see something that is uniquely theirs, their baby, they see something in you more than yourself, the Baby that you once were. They will always see you as a baby in adult drag and fail to take you seriously. And they will love their grandchildren more than you, seeing therein the reincarnation of the eternal baby. . Why do they have babies...  to continue their DNA, their watermark. It's got your eyes, his nose, my twinkle, they say, as if its an assembalge of parental parts, a monstrous mirror wherein they see themselves. But more than that, in return for having a baby they receive of course a graduation certificate from the Social Order, confirming their status as a fully paid up member. 

So actually they don;t want a baby at all. They don't want the tiny precise machine, one of the many through which Nature's intellect shines and overwhelms us,  they don't want the dazed mammal with its alien eyes, the strawberry heart's loud and scary insistance, the baby lit up with ghosts of joy, with jolts of surprise, that play on its face and vanish, they don't want the siren-baby announcing the destruction of the old regime, the start of an ethical life, the sacrifice of your Couple's evenings infront of the telly, the job in the city, the whole bourgious citadel, announcing the birth of a new world, they don't want this anarchist's bomb made of instinct, breaking you open with screams and glee, hysterical with trauma then wobbling with joy.. they don't want all the riddles of existence newly and snugly curled into a question mark in your arms, they don't want the revolutionary baby; no, they want the cute and complementary baby, the socially ratified baby, the designer baby, the piece in the jigsaw, the baby as social promotion, the baby as object, the baby as sign, as token, as badge and, with it, all the complementary titles of 'being a mum' and 'being a dad'..all the vain honorifics bestowed by the World, the symbolic scaffoldings and supports, something to post on Facebook, a narrative of Success, without which most of us cannot live.  

Many whom I used to call friends are now merely parents and declare this to be their vocation. Parents with a two-a-penny middle class rent-a-baby called Harold or somesuch vintage name, or a predictably outlandish name, like Zeberdee. "Do you want some pesto Zeberdee?" the mother cooes, as Zeberdee looks on bored and indifferent.